CMS on Tuesday announced that it will not release updated Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings next month, and did not say when the agency would update the ratings.
About the ratings
CMS' Hospital Compare website's Overall Hospital Quality Star Ratings rate more than 4,000 U.S. hospitals on scale of one to five, with five stars being the highest. Hospitals can report data on up to 57 measures across seven categories:
- Effectiveness of care;
- Efficient use of medical imaging;
- Patient experience;
- Safety of care; and
- Timeliness of care.
Hospitals must report measures for at least three categories, including at least one outcome measure:
- Readmissions; or
CMS weighs the data submitted more heavily when a hospital does not report for all measures.
According to Becker's Hospital Review, CMS last year canceled its July ratings update and delayed its October 2017 ratings update to Dec. 21, 2017.
CMS delays July update
According to Modern Healthcare, CMS in May posted proposed changes to the methodology used to calculate hospitals' star ratings and allowed hospitals to preview the changes before their scheduled release in July. The proposed changes increased the number of hospitals rated with one star from 260 in December 2017 to 338 in the update scheduled for July, and increased the number of hospitals rated with five stars from 337 in December 2017 to 375 for the update scheduled for July, Modern Healthcare reports.
But CMS on Tuesday said it is postponing the July update "to give time for additional analysis of the impact of changes to some of the measures on the star ratings and to address stakeholder concerns." The agency added, "When changes are made to the underlying measures it is vital to take the time needed to understand the impact of those changes and ensure we are giving consumers the most useful information."
CMS said it will seek feedback from a panel of technical experts, a provider leadership workgroup, and the public on the star ratings before posting an update.
CMS said the overall star ratings it posted in December will remain in the Hospital Compare website until the agency releases an update, but did not indicate when that update would occur.
Hospital groups react
American Hospital Association EVP Tom Nickels praised CMS' decision, saying the group "appreciate[s] the agency allowing more time for a fuller analysis of its methodology and measures and to hear from stakeholders, including hospitals and health systems, about concerns found in many preview reports."
America's Essential Hospitals (AEH) also applauded the delay. "Reviews of July preview reports show large shifts in overall hospital star ratings from December 2017 to July 2018," AEH President and CEO Bruce Siegel said, adding, "These changes have created confusion and raised new questions about the reliability and validity of the methodology used to calculate these ratings" (Knowles, Becker's Hospital Review, 6/12; AHA News, 6/12; Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 6/12; Castellucci, Modern Healthcare, 6/12).
Just updated: Learn how CMS Star Ratings—and 6 other ratings programs—actually work
Download our one page sheets for summaries on the methodology and metric categories used in seven hospital quality rating programs:
- CMS Overall Star Ratings
- CMS HCAHPS Patient Experience Star Rating
- Healthgrades Patient Safety Ratings and Excellence Awards
- Healthgrades Outstanding Patient Experience Awards
- Leapfrog Group Hospital Safety Grade
- Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals
- US News and World Report Best Hospital Rankings